Which competencies are for you?
A competency is a combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors which, when acquired, allows employees to perform a task or function at a specifically defined level of proficiency. The competencies required for any interpretive job are directly dependent on the position description and duties of that position.
Depending on the duties of their positions, interpreters engage in a wide variety of work and have a diversity of responsibilities. Some interpreters are permanent, some seasonal; many are volunteer or non-paid; while some work for partner or non-NPS organizations. Regardless of whom you work for, how long you work each year, or whether you're brand new to interpretation or an experienced interpreter, the charts below will help you match the work you do with the appropriate interpretive competencies and professional development opportunities to achieve them.
Working with your supervisor
All interpreters should discuss their positions with their supervisors to best determine the appropriate competencies, developmental opportunities and priorities for their positions. Documents like position/job descriptions, performance plans, organization charts, and annual work plans can all be used to help describe the work and what competencies are required for successful performance. Consider partnering with your supervisor (or your employees if you supervise others) to develop "Individual Development Plans" to help guide your professional development for your current job and potential future career.
Select the "tab" below that best describes the type of work you typically perform. Some interpreters may perform duties found under several of the tabs below.
The knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors (described as "Entry," "Developmental" and "Full Performance" on the "Competencies" pages) required by front-line interpreters varies greatly depending on their positions. Essential competencies needed by almost all interpreters include: "Foundations," "Informal Visitor Contacts" and "Interpretive Talks." Depending on the specific duties of the position, other interpretive competencies will also be needed.
"Specialist" interpretive positions might include jobs like Education Specialist, Visual Information or Media Specialist, and Volunteer Program Coordinators. In addition to competency in many of the front-line interpretive skills and abilities, these positions require specialty knowledge and skills like curriculum development, graphic arts, volunteer management skills, and a range of other technical abilities.
Training modules exist for the following competencies:
In development -- competencies that support the work of specialists include:
"Supervisors" and "Chiefs" (managers) of interpretation need in-depth familiarity with many of the front-line interpretive competencies, but also need other essential skills like supervision, administration, human resources, planning, public affairs, and partnerships.
Competencies for Chiefs of Interpretation
Chief of Interpretation professionals in the 21st Century need to be able to demonstrate competency in each of the following areas. The competencies are grouped by Core Qualifications that are used consistently throughout the government.
BUILDING COALITIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS
Bold=competencies in bold font have been defined for NPS Chiefs of Interpretation. For more information, use the links on this page.
*= competencies with an asterisk are shared by many government employees. They have been described by OPM, in a generic manner, for all developmental levels. For detailed information, click here. (link to OPM Competency Dictionary).
Where to begin?
The suggested approach to learning and development depends on individual needs. Employees in the career field may engage in leadership opportunities at all levels of development.